Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine, Obedience, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 46: “Zion—The Pure in Heart”

1. The word Zion has several meanings.

D&C 97:21 The pure in heart

‘God has given us the perfect definition: Zion is the pure in heart-the pure in heart, not merely the pure in appearance. It is not a society or religion of forms and observances, of pious gestures and precious mannerisms: it is strictly a condition of the heart. Above all, Zion is pure, which means “not mixed with any impurities, unalloyed”; it is all Zion and nothing else. It is not achieved wherever a heart is pure or where two or three are pure, because it is all pure-it is a society, a community, and an environment into which no unclean thing can enter. “Henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean” (3 Nephi 20:36). It is not even pure people in a dirty environment, or pure people with a few impure ones among them; it is the perfectly pure in a perfectly pure environment. “I . . . will contend with Zion . . . and chasten her until she overcomes and is clean before me” (D&C 90:36).

This makes it so different from our world that it almost begins to sound distasteful. But a moment’s reflection will show that Zion cannot possibly be other than wholly pure. For Zion is the eternal order; it has existed elsewhere from the eternities and will someday be permanently established on this earth. Even the smallest impurity or flaw in anything designed to continue forever would, in the course of an infinite stretching of time, become a thing of infinite mischief. The most perfect structures men have been able to erect have been short-lived because of tiny, all-but-imperceptible flaws. Hence, any flaw, no matter how small, must be removed from a system designed to be timeless; otherwise, there will be no end of trouble.’ (Hugh Nibley, Approaching Zion, edited by Don E. Norton [Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1989], 27)

D&C 82:14 Stakes

‘Zion is to increase in size, beauty, and holiness. Think upon that challenge as if we spoke of a tent. Stakes must be added, but this is not to be a common tent. The curtains must be more beautiful. The activities within this tent are not to be common or profane. A larger, more beautiful, and holier tent sounds like a description of the ancient tabernacle. Reflect upon the words of President Howard W. Hunter, who invited the Church to “look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership.”

Why the call for beauty? Perhaps Zion will need to expand because its beauty will serve as an attraction to those it seeks to gather. Similarly, the call for increased holiness may be to ensure the Lord’s protecting hand upon the Church. Just as each component in a tent interacts with the other components to accomplish its purposes, perhaps the growth, beauty, and holiness of Zion interact to fulfill its destiny.’ (Richard W Hall, Her Stakes Must Be Strengthened)

Image result for Gospel Doctrine 2017 - Lesson 46: “Zion—The Pure in Heart”

D&C 45:66-67 The New Jerusalem

‘The city has yet to be built, and it will not be built and cannot be built except by a people who are living a celestial law. And after it is built, the fear and dread of the Lord will rest upon the wicked as they see how and in what manner the Lord preserves its righteous inhabitants.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 303.)

2. Zion has existed in previous dispensations.

Watch or read: Israel, Israel, God is Calling Jeffrey R Holland CES Broadcast

3. The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

Read: Revelations in Context – Newel K Whitney and the United Firm

D&C 6:6 Establish the cause of Zion

“The commandment to reestablish Zion became for the Saints of Joseph Smith’s day the central goal of the Church. But it was a goal the Church did not realize because its people were not fully prepared. In the wisdom of God, who comprehends the end from the beginning, the redemption of Zion will assuredly come as promised, but not until he has a prepared people who can live by Zion’s laws.” (William O. Nelson, “To Prepare a People,” Ensign, Jan. 1979, 18)

D&C 57:1-3 Independence

‘Let Israel gather to the stakes of Zion in all nations. Let every land be a Zion to those appointed to dwell there. Let the fullness of the gospel be for all the saints in all nations. Let no blessing be denied them. Let temples arise wherein the fullness of the ordinances of the Lord’s house may be administered….

But still there is a center place, a place where the chief temple shall stand, a place to which the Lord shall come, a place whence the law shall go forth to govern all the earth in that day when [Christ] reigns personally upon the earth. And that center place is what men now call Independence in Jackson County, Missouri, but which in a day to come will be the Zion of our God and the City of Holiness of his people. The site is selected; the place is known; the decree has gone forth; and the promised destiny is assured.’ (Bruce R McConkie, New Witness for the Articles of Faith, 595)

Image result for D&C 97:21 The pure in heart

D&C 105:9 Wait for a little season

‘We must live God’s laws if we desire to reap his promises. The Latter-day Saints of Jackson County were a far better people than those who mobbed them and drove them from their homes; but a lack of preparedness hindered them from playing their full part in the great work that God had designed. The mighty event, however, was only postponed. Zion, in due time, will be redeemed; Israel will be gathered; and the preparation made that is necessary to precede the advent of the King of kings.’ (Orson F Whitney, Conference Report, October 1919, Afternoon Session 73.)

D&C 101:6-8 They polluted their inheritances

‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of  God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church.’ (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)

D&C 38:27 If ye are not one ye are not mine

“If we are not united, we are not his. Here unity is the test of divine ownership as thus expressed. If we would be united in love and fellowship and harmony, this Church would convert the world, who would see in us the shining example of these qualities which evidence that divine ownership. Likewise, if in that Latter-day Saint home the husband and wife are in disharmony, bickering, and divorce is threatened, there is an evidence that one or both are not keeping the commandments of God.

“If we, in our wards and our branches, are divided, and there are factions not in harmony, it is but an evidence that there is something wrong. If two persons are at variance, arguing on different points of doctrine, no reasonable, thinking persons would say that both were speaking their different opinions by the Spirit of the Lord. …

“If it is so important, then, that this people be a united people, we might well expect that upon this principle the powers of Satan would descend for their greatest attack. We might well expect, also, that if there be those of apostate mind among us, they would be inclined to ridicule and to scorn this principle of oneness and unity as being narrow-minded or as being unprogressive. We would likewise expect that those who are enemies would also seek to fight against that principle.” (Harold B Lee, In Conference Report, Apr. 1950, pp. 97–98.)

Image result for The Saints of our dispensation have been commanded to establish Zion.

D&C 64:34 The Lord requires the heart and a willing mind

‘It doesn’t say that the Lord requires competence, or a Ph.D. or immaculate housekeeping, or professional success. But it doesn’t say that he’ll be satisfied with a half-hearted you, either. He wants your whole heart, and for good reason. Real power does not lie in external forces, but in the heart’. (Chieko Okazaki, Lighten Up! [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 69.)

D&C 105:3 They have not learned to be obedient

‘In the early 1830’s, the Lord directed the Saints to implement the “royal law” by living the United Order. In this they failed. Because they did not learn to impart of their substance as becometh Saints to the poor and afflicted among them  D&C 105:3 the Lord permitted them to be driven from Missouri, and the requirement that they live the United Order was withdrawn. But the “royal law” was not withdrawn. It remained in full force. At least partially to fulfil it, the Saints, since then, have been bound by the law of tithing and the “fast.”‘ (Marion G Romney, General Conference, October 1954)

D&C 97:13-14 A place of instruction

“Temple work … gives a wonderful opportunity for keeping alive our spiritual knowledge and strength. … The mighty perspective of eternity is unraveled before us in the holy temples; we see time from its infinite beginning to its endless end; and the drama of eternal life is unfolded before us. Then I see more clearly my place amidst the things of the universe, my place among the purposes of God; I am better able to place myself where I belong, and I am better able to value and to weigh, to separate and to organize the common, ordinary duties of my life, so that the little things shall not oppress me or take away my vision of the greater things that God has given us.” (John A Widtsoe, In Conference Report, Apr. 1922, pp. 97–98.)

D&C 105:10 That my people may be taught more perfectly

‘The modern Church even today is instructed to “wait for a little season” to build up central Zion. Why? So that we “may be prepared … and have experience.” (D&C 105:9-10.) We gain knowledge through particular experiences, but only incrementally, “in that thing.” (Alma 32:34.) Hence the ongoingness of it all, and perhaps we can be forgiven for wondering, “Is there no other way?” Personal, spiritual symmetry emerges only from the shaping of prolonged obedience. Twigs are bent, not snapped, into shape.

Without patient and meek endurance we will learn less, see less, feel less, and hear less. We who are egocentric and impatient shut down so much of our receiving capacity.

In any case, brothers and sisters, how could there be refining fires without enduring some heat? Or greater patience without enduring some instructive waiting? Or more empathy without bearing one another’s burdens-not only that others’ burdens may be lightened, but that we may be enlightened through greater empathy? How can there be later magnification without enduring some present deprivation?

The enlarging of the soul requires not only some remodeling, but some excavating. Hypocrisy, guile, and other imbedded traits do not go gladly or easily, but if we “endure it well” (D&C 121:8), we will not grow testy while being tested.

Moreover, we find that sorrow can actually enlarge the mind and heart in order to “give place,” expanded space for later joy.

Thus, enduring is one of the cardinal attributes; it simply cannot be developed without the laboratory time in this second estate. Even the best lectures about the theory of enduring are not enough. All the other cardinal virtues-love, patience, humility, mercy, purity, submissiveness, justice-they all require endurance for their full development.’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Endure It Well,” Ensign, May 1990, 34)

4. The scriptures include glorious promises about the future of Zion.

D&C 97:18 If Zion do these things she shall prosper

“The Saints did not build the temple in Jackson County. The command to build one ‘speedily’ must have sounded to them like a strange demand in light of their situation. Their leaders had been tarred and feathered. Their press had been destroyed and their homes ransacked and burned. Yet the Lord was counseling them to walk into the center of Independence and start laying the foundation of a temple.

“I have often wondered what would have happened if all the Saints in Missouri had dropped whatever they were doing, picked up their tools, and marched, en masse, to Independence and started digging foundations. It would have taken tremendous courage, but the history of the Church might have been much different. Let us never underestimate the protective power of the temple. ‘Every time a temple is dedicated to the Lord,’ Spencer W. Kimball said, ‘the darkness pushes farther back, . . . and light comes into the world.’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 534.)” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple[Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 65 – 66)

D&C 97:25 Zion shall escape

‘My brethren and sisters, why should we hope to escape, who have been baptized into this Church, yet ignore the commandments of the Lord? For there are among us those who do not keep the Word of Wisdom, some of us do not pay our tithing; we do not sanctify ourselves by adding unto our faith, virtue: to virtue, knowledge, to knowledge, temperance, and patience, and godliness, and brotherly kindness. Why should we claim exemption-we who know the truth, we who have been warned, we who will testify that we believe God has spoken-why should we escape if we do not keep the commandments of the Lord? And I say this with a feeling in my heart of deep appreciation that the Latter-day Saints are, notwithstanding all this, the best people in the world…  The Lord is speaking… to the whole Church, crying repentance unto us, calling us to set our houses in order, to keep the commandments of the Lord.’ (Melvin J Ballard, Conference Report, June 1919, Second Day-Morning Session 89.)

Advertisements
Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 36: “The Desert Shall Rejoice, and Blossom as the Rose”

1. “Right here will stand the temple of our God.”

A side view of the Salt Lake Temple and grounds, including a fountain and trees.

 

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – The Master Builder

Watch: Ministry of Gordon B Hinckley – Temple Building 

The construction of temples across the globe allows the blessings of the temple to attend LDS families wherever they reside. (1:57)

‘Two days after the first company’s arrival, Brigham Young and several of the Twelve climbed a round bluff on the mountainside that President Young had seen in vision before leaving Nauvoo. They looked out over the valley’s vast expanse and prophesied that all nations of the world would be welcome in this place and that here the Saints would enjoy prosperity and peace. They named the hill Ensign Peak after the scripture in Isaiah that promised, “He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel” (Isaiah 11:12).

President Young’s first public act, on 28 July 1847, was to select a central site for a temple and put men to work planning its design and construction. Placing his cane on the chosen spot he said, “Here we shall build a temple to our God.” This declaration must have comforted the Saints, who only a short time before had been forced to discontinue temple worship when they left Nauvoo.’ (Our Heritage)

“The next morning he and the Twelve who came with him took a walk. He had been quite feeble, but he was then able to walk with the assistance of his staff. We walked along until we came to this Temple Block. It was covered with sagebrush. There was no mark to indicate that God ever intended to place anything there. But while walking along Brother Brigham stopped very suddenly. He stuck his cane in the ground and said, ‘Right here will stand the great Temple of our God.’ We drove a stake in the place indicated by him, and that particular spot is situated in the middle of the Temple site” (Wilford Woodruff, Collected Discourses, Vol. 5, delivered on April 6, 1992).

“The pioneers were hungry and weary; they needed food and rest; a hostile desert looked them in the face; yet in the midst of such physical requirements they turned first to the building of temples and to the spiritual food and strength that the temples provide.” (Elder John A Widtsoe, Conf. Rpt., Apr. 1943, 38).

2. The Saints were obedient as they settled and colonized the Salt Lake Valley and the surrounding areas.

D&C 58:2-4 Faithful in tribulation

“If the Saints could realize things as they are when they are called to pass through trials, and to suffer what they call sacrifices, they would acknowledge them to be the greatest blessings that could be bestowed upon them” (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 345).

A portrait painting by A. Westwood of President John Taylor wearing a black suit and sitting in a chair.

D&C 64:33 Be not weary in well-doing

‘A major reason this church has grown from its humble beginnings to its current strength is the faithfulness and devotion of millions of humble and devoted [members]… He encourages us to “be not weary in well-doing, for [we] are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” May we be faithful in fulfilling the duties of whatever calling we have in the kingdom. Let us pay heed to the “small things” that make all the difference. Let us be faithful in keeping the commandments as we have made sacred covenants to do. As our heritage and our growth clearly show, we are, indeed, “laying the foundation of a great work.”

Let us dedicate ourselves to doing the Lord’s work to the best of our abilities. May we honor the faith of our fathers by giving our own faithful service to this great cause.’ (Joseph B Wirthlin, “Faith of Our Fathers,” Ensign, May 1996, 34)

3. Missionaries made sacrifices to teach the gospel throughout the world.

‘With the hum of labor and domestic life filling the air, President Brigham Young turned to the concerns of the Church. At the general conference held on 6 October 1849, he assigned several members of the Twelve, along with newly called missionaries, to serve foreign missions. They accepted these calls even though they would leave behind their families, their new homes, and many unfinished tasks. Erastus Snow and several elders opened missionary work in Scandinavia, while Lorenzo Snow and Joseph Toronto traveled to Italy. Addison and Louisa Barnes Pratt returned to Addison’s former field of labor in the Society Islands. John Taylor was called to France and Germany. As the missionaries traveled east, they passed Saints headed to the new Zion in the Rocky Mountains.

In their fields of labor, the missionaries witnessed miracles and baptized many people into the Church. When Lorenzo Snow, who later became President of the Church, was preaching in Italy, he saw a three-year-old boy on the verge of death. He recognized an opportunity to heal the child and open the hearts of the people in the area. That night he prayed long and earnestly for God’s direction, and the following day he and his companion fasted and prayed for the boy. That afternoon they administered to him and offered a silent prayer for help in their labors. The boy slept peacefully all night and was miraculously healed. Word of this healing spread across the valleys of the Piedmont in Italy. The doors were opened to the missionaries, and the first baptisms in the area took place.5

In August 1852, at a special conference held in Salt Lake City, 106 elders were called to go on missions to countries throughout the world. These missionaries, as well as those who were called later, preached the gospel in South America, China, India, Spain, Australia, Hawaii, and the South Pacific. In most of these areas, the missionaries had little initial success. However, they sowed seeds that resulted in many coming into the Church in later missionary efforts.

Elder Edward Stevenson was called to the Gibraltar Mission in Spain. This call meant a return to the place of his birth, where he boldly proclaimed the restored gospel to his countrymen. He was arrested for preaching and spent some time in jail until authorities found he was teaching the guards, almost converting one of them. After his release he baptized two people into the Church and by January 1854 a branch of ten members had been organized. In July, even though six members had left to serve with the British army in Asia, the branch had eighteen members, including one seventy, one elder, one priest, and one teacher, giving the branch the leadership it needed to continue to grow.6

Local governments in French Polynesia drove the missionaries out in 1852. But the converted Saints kept the Church alive until further proselyting efforts in 1892. Elders Tihoni and Maihea were especially valiant as they endured imprisonment and other ordeals rather than deny their faith. Each of them tried to keep the Saints active and faithful to the gospel.7

For those who joined the Church outside the United States, this was a time for gathering to Zion, which meant traveling by boat to America. Elizabeth and Charles Wood sailed in 1860 from South Africa, where they had labored several years to acquire money for their travel. Elizabeth kept house for a wealthy man, and her husband made bricks until they obtained the needed funds. Elizabeth was carried aboard the ship on a bed 24 hours after delivering a son and was given the captain’s berth so she could be more comfortable. She was very ill during the journey, almost dying twice, but lived to settle in Fillmore, Utah.

Missionaries became very dear to the Saints in the countries where they served. Joseph F. Smith, near the end of his mission to Hawaii in 1857, became ill with a high fever that prevented him from working for three months. He was blessed to come under the care of Ma Mahuhii, a faithful Hawaiian Saint. She nursed Joseph as if he were her own son, and a strong bond of love developed between the two. Years later, when he was President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith visited Honolulu and just after his arrival saw an old blind woman being led in with a few choice bananas in her hand as an offering. He heard her call, “Iosepa, Iosepa” (Joseph, Joseph). Immediately he ran to her and hugged and kissed her many times, patting her on the head and saying, “Mama, Mama, my dear old Mama.”’ (Our Heritage)

Read: Sacrifice – Missionary Style Elder Adney Y Komatsu

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 35: “A Mission of Saving”

A painting by Clark Kelley Price depicting two members from the Martin handcart company laying one of their dead into a grave surrounded by snow.

1. President Brigham Young guided the rescue of the Martin and Willie handcart companies.

A painting by Clark Kelley Price illustrating a young man walking through the icy Sweetwater River carrying a child wrapped in a blanket.

See: Five Things You May Not Know About the Handcart Rescue

Read: How the Rescue of Handcart Pioneers Helped Revive the Relief Society

‘In the 1850s Church leaders decided to form handcart companies as a way to reduce expenses so that financial aid could be extended to the greatest number of emigrants. Saints who traveled this way put only 100 pounds of flour and a limited quantity of provisions and belongings into a cart and then pulled the cart across the plains. Between 1856 and 1860, ten handcart companies traveled to Utah. Eight of the companies reached the Salt Lake Valley successfully, but two of them, the Martin and Willie handcart companies, were caught in an early winter and many Saints among them perished.

Nellie Pucell, a pioneer in one of these ill-fated companies, turned ten years old on the plains. Both her parents died during the journey. As the group neared the mountains, the weather was bitter cold, the rations were depleted, and the Saints were too weak from hunger to continue on. Nellie and her sister collapsed. When they had almost given up hope, the leader of the company came to them in a wagon. He placed Nellie in the wagon and told Maggie to walk along beside it, holding on to steady herself. Maggie was fortunate because the forced movement saved her from frostbite.

When they reached Salt Lake City and Nellie’s shoes and stockings, which she had worn across the plains, were removed, the skin came off with them as a result of frostbite. This brave girl’s feet were painfully amputated and she walked on her knees the rest of her life. She later married and gave birth to six children, keeping up her own house and raising a fine posterity.10 Her determination in spite of her situation and the kindness of those who cared for her exemplify the faith and willingness to sacrifice of these early Church members. Their example is a legacy of faith to all Saints who follow them.

A man who crossed the plains in the Martin handcart company lived in Utah for many years. One day he was in a group of people who began sharply criticizing the Church leaders for ever allowing the Saints to cross the plains with no more supplies or protection than a handcart company provided. The old man listened until he could stand no more; then he arose and said with great emotion:

“I was in that company and my wife was in it. … We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and many died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? … [We] came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with him in our extremities.

“I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it. … I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there.

“Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No. Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay, and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”’ (Handcart Pioneers in Our Heritage)

2. The Savior rescues us through His atoning sacrifice.

“I remember reading about a fire fighter in the eastern United States who ran into a burning house to rescue several children from an arson-induced fire. While his colleagues battled the blaze to keep it from spreading to other structures in the neighbor-hood, this man dashed into the building again and again, each time emerging with a child in his arms. After rescuing the fifth child, he started back into the inferno once more. Neighbors shouted that there were no more children in the family. But he insisted that he had seen a baby in a cradle, and he dove into the intensifying heat.

“Moments after he disappeared into the fire and smoke, a horrifying explosion shook the building and the entire structure collapsed. It was several hours before fire fighters were able to locate their colleague’s body. They found him in the nursery near the crib, huddled protectively over a life sized—and practically unscratched—doll.

“As I think about such heroism, however, I’m reminded that the most heroic act of all time ever was performed in behalf of all mankind by the Son of God. In a very real sense, all of humanity—past, present, and future—was trapped behind a wall of flame that was fueled and fanned by our own faithlessness. Sin separated mortals from God (see Romans 6:23), and would do so forever unless a way was found to put out the fires of sin and rescue us from ourselves”  (Cited in Our Search for Happiness: M. Russell Ballard, p. 11).

D&C 18:11-12 He suffered the pain of all men

“The results of childhood abuse, whether sexual, physical, or emotional, can be devastating…Truly the Atonement plays the crucial role in the healing process as people with broken hearts and scarred spirits realize they are not alone in their pain and that the Savior has provided a way for them to find peace.

“‘In October 1995 I was sitting in a chapel listening to general conference,’ remembers one woman. ‘Elder Jeffrey Holland spoke on remembering the Lord during the passing of the sacrament…he said, `To those who stagger or stumble, he is there to steady and strengthen us. In the end he is there to save us, and for all this he gave his life` (“This Do in Remembrance of Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 69).

“‘I was amazed. I knew Jesus Christ had given his life to pay for the sins of the world. But I did not know the Savior had given his life for the pains, abuse, and tearful suffering we all have to endure in this life, oftentimes as innocent victims of terrible circumstances far beyond our own control.

“‘I raced home after conference in order to look up scriptures about this aspect of the Savior’s Crucifixion. I found a wonderful scripture: Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;

“‘For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him (D&C 18:10-11). He did not suffer just for people’s sins; he also suffered their pains. What a powerful message that was to my heart to learn he had suffered for those of us who had been abused. I can honestly say that my healing began on that day.'” (“The Journey to Healing,” Ensign, Sept. 1997, 19-20)

3. As Latter-day Saints, we are to rescue those in need.

Watch: Tried in All Things (D&C 136:29-33) Elder Maxwell explains how the Saints will be tried in all things. (1:47)

Watch: Ministering (2014/15 Auxiliary Training)

D&C 4:3 If Ye Have Desires

‘Actually, everything depends-initially and finally-on our desires. These shape our thought patterns. Our desires thus precede our deeds and lie at the very cores of our souls, tilting us toward or away from God (see D&C 4:3).’ (Neal A Maxwell, “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 23)

D&C 18:10-16 The Worth of Souls is Great

“And how are we to determine the value of souls? This matter has been determined for us also by revelation. The souls of men are so precious in the sight of God that He gave to the world His Only Begotten Son, that by the shedding of His blood He might draw all men unto Him. That is why the great Prophet of this dispensation, Joseph Smith, and these others, John Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and the rest, were called to bring souls unto Christ. And if one of these men should labor all his days, and bring save it be but one soul unto Christ, and that one should be his wife, what great joy he would have with his wife in heaven. Then if he should labor all his days and bring unto Christ the souls of his wife and his children, and none else perchance, how great would be his joy in heaven with his wife and children.” (Rudger Clawson In Conference Report, Apr. 1901, pp. 7–8.)

D&C 52:40 Remember in All Things the Poor and Needy

‘That one cannot be a true disciple of Christ without significant giving is dramatically emphasized in the revelation received by the Prophet Joseph Smith in Kirtland, on June 7, 1831. In this revelation, the Lord directed twenty-eight of the elders to travel two by two from Kirtland to Jackson County, Missouri. They were to go by different routes, preaching the gospel as they went. You will recall that they were destitute in those days and had to travel through primitive country. Joseph Smith and his immediate companions “journeyed by wagon and stage and occasionally by canal boat to Cincinnati, Ohio,” then to Louisville, Kentucky, and on to St. Louis by steamer. “From this city on the Mississippi, the Prophet of God walked across the entire state of Missouri to Independence, Jackson County, a distance of nearly three hundred miles as traveled.” (George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1958, p. 117.) I call these facts to your attention that you may have in mind the background against which the Lord said to these men as they started, “Remember in all things the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted, for he that doeth not these things, the same is not my disciple.” (D&C 52:40.) Imagine that! These elders were nearly destitute and the Lord said, “Remember … the poor and the needy.”‘ (Marion G Romney, “Living Welfare Principles,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 92)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Faith, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Leadership

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 34: Faith in Every Footstep

1. The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their physical preparations for their journey.

Section 136, … Brigham Young’s only canonized revelation, was proclaimed on 14 January 1847 in the depths of a very cold winter and at a most trying moment in Church history. Having been driven from their comfortable homes and their glorious temple in Nauvoo, some twelve thousand Latter-day Saints huddled in various makeshift settlements, including Winter Quarters in Nebraska Territory on Indian lands just west of the Missouri River; Council Bluffs (Kingsville), Iowa Territory; other communities stretching along the Missouri River as far south as St. Louis; and temporary settlements such as Mt. Pisgah and Garden Grove, along the trail from Winter Quarters to the Salt Lake Valley. Some five hundred of the Saints’ most able men had been called into service by the United States Army of the West and were then marching to the Pacific coast as the Mormon Battalion. Church members were largely uprooted and spread out on their way west in a full-scale exodus of man and beast to a new Zion in some valley of the Rocky Mountains.

During the winter of 1847, the Quorum of the Twelve and others counseled together on how best to move the large body of Saints to the Great Basin. While they were discussing how they should travel in companies with presidencies over each company and captains of hundreds, fifties, and tens (as did the ancient Israelites under Moses; Deuteronomy 1:15), Brigham Young received this revelation. (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, (2012), p.856)

Read: Revelations in Context: This Shall Be Our Covenant

This article shows how difficulties crossing Iowa helped lead to the Lord revealing what is now known as Doctrine and Covenants 136.

‘[D&C 136] was read to each quorum in the area and sustained as the word of the Lord to them. Copies were made and members of the Twelve and the local high councils traveled to all the other camps, read the revelation, and obtained sustaining votes. Thus, the revelation was canonized by the Saints within days of its reception and is evidence that these people were committed to the leadership of Brigham Young and the other members of the Quorum of the Twelve.

Furthermore, the revelation transformed their travels and travails from a mere westward departure into an exodus of modern Israel with divine design and purpose. Spelling out the revised organization by which they would begin to travel west of the Missouri through hostile Indian country, the revelation was at once a resolution and an explanation, a vindication and a promise.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, (2012), p.856)

D&C 136:1–3. How Was the Camp of Israel Organized?

Smith and Sjodahl wrote: “The Saints were driven from their homes in Nauvoo under the most trying circumstances and in poverty and destitution in large measure, for they had been robbed by their enemies. Therefore it was extremely needful for a revelation from the Lord for their guidance in their journeyings to the Rocky Mountains. The Lord did not fail them in this hour of distress and gave this revelation to President Brigham Young to guide them in their journeyings and admonishing them to keep His commandments. All the members of the Church were to be organized in companies and were required to keep the commandments faithfully that they might have the guidance of His Spirit with them in all their trying circumstances. These companies were to be on the order followed by Zion’s Camp in their remarkable march from Kirtland to Missouri, with captains, over hundreds, fifties and tens and all under the direction of the council of Apostles.” (Commentary, p. 857.)

D&C 136:6 When the companies are organized let them… prepare for those who are to tarry

“In accord with a 14 January 1847 revelation (see D&C 136), President Young organized the Saints carefully into companies of 100, 50, and 10 (meaning people in this case, not wagons). He served as company president and main captain, aided by 2 captains of 100, 5 captains of 50, and 14 captains of 10. Their story is one of ‘organization, foresight, and discipline,’ wrote one historian, saying that they stopped more days for Sabbath worship than for delays caused by travel hazards.

“For half their journey, this advance, exploratory company followed the north side of the Platte River. Later travelers joked that the lazy Platte was ‘a mile wide and an inch deep, too thin to plow, too thick to drink.’ As much as possible, they followed somewhat established trails, smoothing and improving the way for following pioneer companies and only occasionally blazing new trail segments.” (William G. Hartley, “Gathering the Dispersed Nauvoo Saints, 1847-1852,” Ensign, July 1997, 19)

2. The Lord instructed the Saints regarding their conduct.

D&C 136:18–27. Zion Will Be Redeemed

Smith and Sjodahl wrote that “the members of the Church had been disappointed, if not discouraged, because Zion had not been redeemed. No doubt it was trying to the faith of some to be on the way to the unknown region of the Rocky Mountains. All that they had heard of this territory was discouraging and the redemption of Zion seemed farther away than ever from fulfillment. Now they were to take courage, for the Lord had not forgotten Zion, and it should be redeemed in the due time of the Lord. It was well, therefore, for the members to obey counsel and not seek to build themselves at the expense of others; should this be done they would lose the reward. The Lord would lead them as he led the children of Israel, and he was just as mindful of the Saints today as he was then. Every man should respect the rights and property of the rest, and all should be wise stewards.” (Commentary, p. 860.)

D&C 136:21 Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain

‘In the revelation given to President Brigham Young on January 14, 1847, while the Saints were preparing to leave Winter Quarters for these valleys in the West, the Lord said to them, “Keep yourselves from evil to take the name of the Lord in vain, for I am the Lord your God, even the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob” (D&C 136:21).

In a general epistle to the entire Church issued by the First Presidency on April 8, 1887, a hundred years ago, they said concerning this problem, which evidently was serious then as it is now, “The habit … , which some young people fall into, of using vulgarity and profanity … is not only offensive to well-bred persons, but it is a gross sin in the sight of God, and should not exist among the children of the Latter-day Saints” (in Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols., Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75, 3:112-13).

I once worked with a group of railroad men who seemed to pride themselves on the use of profanity. They tried to make an art of it. I recall handing a written instruction to a switchman. It was his job to take care of the matter as instructed, but he thought it inconvenient that he should have to do so at that time. On reading the order, he flew into a tantrum. He was a fifty-year-old man, but he acted like a spoiled child. He threw his cap on the ground and jumped on it and let forth such a string of expletives as to seem to cause the air to turn blue around him. Every third or fourth word was the name of Deity spoken in vain.

I thought, how childish can a grown man be? The very idea of a man acting and speaking like that was totally repugnant. I could never again give him my full respect.

When I was a small boy in the first grade, I experienced what I thought was a rather tough day at school. I came home, walked in the house, threw my book on the kitchen table, and let forth an expletive that included the name of the Lord.

My mother was shocked. She told me quietly, but firmly, how wrong I was. She told me that I could not have words of that kind coming out of my mouth. She led me by the hand into the bathroom, where she took from the shelf a clean washcloth, put it under the faucet, and then generously coated it with soap. She said, “We’ll have to wash out your mouth.” She told me to open it, and I did so reluctantly. Then she rubbed the soapy washcloth around my tongue and teeth. I sputtered and fumed and felt like swearing again, but I didn’t. I rinsed and rinsed my mouth, but it was a long while before the soapy taste was gone. In fact, whenever I think of that experience, I can still taste the soap. The lesson was worthwhile. I think I can say that I have tried to avoid using the name of the Lord in vain since that day. I am grateful for that lesson.

On one occasion, Jesus said to the multitude, “Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man; but that which cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man” (Matt. 15:11).’ (Gordon B Hinckley, “Take Not the Name of God in Vain,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 45-46)

D&C 136:23 cease to speak evil one of another

‘Faultfinding, evil speaking, and backbiting are obviously unchristian. The Bible commands us to avoid “evil speakings.” (See 1 Pet. 2:1.) It tells us to “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you.” (Eph. 4:31.) Modern revelations direct us to avoid “backbiting,” “evil speaking,” and “find[ing] fault one with another.” (See D&C 20:53-54; D&C 42:27; D&C 88:124; and D&C 136:23.)

We are given these commandments for a reason. The Apostle Paul advised the Saints to “grieve not the holy Spirit of God” (Eph. 4:30) by evil speaking. Of faultfinders, President Brigham Young said, “The Spirit of God has no place in [such] persons.” (Journal of Discourses, 8:13.) The primary reason we are commanded to avoid criticism is to preserve our own spiritual well-being, not to protect the person whom we would criticize.

Elder George Albert Smith said this about criticism: “Aren’t we rather prone to see the limitations and the weaknesses of our neighbors? Yet that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is a class of people who find fault and criticize always in a destructive way. There is a difference in criticism. If we can criticize constructively under the influence of the Spirit of the Lord, we may change beneficially and properly some of the things that are being done. But if we have the spirit of faultfinding, of pointing out the weaknesses and failings of others in a destructive manner, that never comes as the result of the companionship of the Spirit of our Heavenly Father and is always harmful.”‘ (Dallin H Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 68)

 

3. Under the direction of President Brigham Young, the Saints journeyed to the Salt Lake Valley.

A painting by Glen S. Hopkinson depicting Joseph F. Smith as a young man walking next to the oxen pulling their wagon, with his mother, Mary Fielding Smith, following close behind.

Watch: Learning Through Trials  Elder Robert D Hales

A painting by Jonathan Leo Fairbanks illustrating a man standing by a tree and looking down at Winter Quarters while a woman places green leaves on a grave, with a child standing close by.

Watch: Ministry of Brigham Young – A Visionary Leader

A painting by Clark Kelley Price depicting two members from the Martin handcart company laying one of their dead into a grave surrounded by snow.

‘On 21 July 1847, Orson Pratt and Erastus Snow of the first pioneer company preceded the emigrants into the Salt Lake Valley. They saw grass so deep that a person could wade through it, promising land for farming, and several creeks that wandered through the valley. Three days later, President Brigham Young, who was ill with mountain fever, was driven in his carriage to the mouth of a canyon that opened onto the valley. As President Young looked over the scene, he gave his prophetic benediction to their travels: “It is enough. This is the right place.”

As the Saints who followed emerged from the mountains, they, too, gazed at their promised land! This valley with its salty lake gleaming in the western sun was the object of vision and prophecy, the land of which they and thousands after them dreamed. This was their land of refuge, where they would become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains.

Several years later, a convert from England, Jean Rio Griffiths Baker, recorded her feelings as she viewed Salt Lake City for the first time. “The city … is laid out in squares or blocks as they call them here; each containing ten acres and divided into eight lots, each lot having one house. I stood and looked, I can hardly analyze my feelings, but I think my prevailing ones were joy and gratitude for the protecting care had over me and mine during our long and perilous journey.”’ (This is the Right Place in Our Heritage)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 33: President Brigham Young Leads the Saints

1. The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Twelve the keys of the kingdom and taught the principles of succession in the Presidency.

Image result for The Prophet Joseph Smith gave the Twelve the keys of the kingdom and taught the principles of succession in the Presidency.

Watch: Succession in the Presidency President Hinckley teaches about succession in the Presidency. (2:13)

D&C 107:22-24 Equal in authority and power

‘With reference to this subject, the fourth President of the Church, Wilford Woodruff, made a few observations in a letter to President Heber J. Grant, then a member of the Twelve, under date of March 28, 1887. I quote from that letter: “. . . when the President of the Church dies, who then is the Presiding Authority of the Church? It is the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (ordained and organized by the revelations of God and none else). Then while these Twelve Apostles preside over the Church, who is the President of the Church [?] It is the President of the Twelve Apostles. And he is virtually as much the President of the Church while presiding over Twelve men as he is when organized as the Presidency of the Church, and presiding over two men.” And this principle has been carried out now for 140 years—ever since the organization of the Church. Then President Woodruff continued:

“As far as I am concerned it would require . . . a revelation from the same God who had organized the church and guided it by inspiration in the channel in which it has travelled for 57 years, before I could give my vote or influence to depart from the paths followed by the Apostles since the organization of the Church and followed by the inspiration of Almighty God, for the past 57 years, by the apostles, as recorded in the history of the Church.”‘ (Harold B Lee, General Conference, April 1970)

Read: The Kingdom of God Will Roll On: Succession in the Presidency Brent Top and Lawrence R Flake, Ensign, August 1996

2. After Joseph Smith’s martyrdom, the Twelve presided over the Church until Brigham Young was sustained as President.

A painted portrait of President Brigham Young wearing a black suit, by George Martin Ottinger.

Watch: Preparation of Brigham Young: Preparation of a Leader 

‘When the Prophet Joseph and Hyrum Smith were murdered in Carthage Jail, many of the Quorum of the Twelve and other Church leaders were serving missions and were absent from Nauvoo. Several days passed before these men learned of the deaths. When Brigham Young heard the news, he knew that the keys of priesthood leadership were still with the Church, for these keys had been given to the Quorum of the Twelve. However, not all Church members understood who would replace Joseph Smith as the Lord’s prophet, seer, and revelator.

Sidney Rigdon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, arrived from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 3 August 1844. In the year before this time, he had begun taking a course contrary to the counsel of the Prophet Joseph Smith and had become estranged from the Church. He refused to meet with the three members of the Twelve already in Nauvoo and instead spoke to a large group of the Saints assembled for their Sunday worship service. He told them of a vision he had received in which he had learned that no one could replace Joseph Smith. He said that a guardian to the Church should be appointed and that guardian should be Sidney Rigdon. Few Saints supported him.

Brigham Young, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, did not return to Nauvoo until 6 August 1844. He declared that he wanted only to know “what God says” about who should lead the Church.19 The Twelve called a meeting for Thursday, 8 August 1844. Sidney Rigdon spoke in the morning session for more than one hour. He won few if any adherents to his position.

Brigham Young then spoke briefly, comforting the hearts of the Saints. As Brigham spoke, George Q. Cannon remembered, “it was the voice of Joseph himself,” and “it seemed in the eyes of the people as if it were the very person of Joseph which stood before them.”20 William C. Staines testified that Brigham Young spoke like the voice of the Prophet Joseph. “I thought it was he,” Staines said, “and so did thousands who heard it.”21 Wilford Woodruff also recalled that wonderful moment and wrote, “If I had not seen him with my own eyes, there is no one that could have convinced me that it was not Joseph Smith, and anyone can testify to this who was acquainted with these two men.”22 This miraculous manifestation, seen by many, made clear to the Saints that the Lord had chosen Brigham Young to succeed Joseph Smith as leader of the Church.

In the afternoon session, Brigham Young again spoke, testifying that the Prophet Joseph had ordained the Apostles to hold the keys of the kingdom of God in all the world. He prophesied that those who did not follow the Twelve would not prosper and that only the Apostles would be victorious in building up the kingdom of God.

Following his talk, President Young asked Sidney Rigdon to talk, but he chose not to. Following remarks by William W. Phelps and Parley P. Pratt, Brigham Young spoke again. He talked of completing the Nauvoo Temple, obtaining the endowment before going into the wilderness, and the importance of the scriptures. He spoke of his love for Joseph Smith and his affection for the Prophet’s family. The Saints then voted unanimously in favor of the Twelve Apostles as leaders of the Church.

While a few others would claim a right to the Presidency of the Church, for most Latter-day Saints the succession crisis was over. Brigham Young, the senior Apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was the man God had chosen to lead his people, and the people had united to sustain him.’ (Succession in the Presidency in Our Heritage)

3. Before leaving Nauvoo, the Saints received temple ordinances.

A back and side view of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple in the evening, with an orange and pink sunset filling the sky overhead.

“Notwithstanding that I had announced that we would not attend to the administration of the ordinances, the House of the Lord was thronged all day, the anxiety being so great to receive, as if the brethren would have us stay here and continue the endowments until our way would be hedged up, and our enemies would intercept us. But I informed the brethren that this was not wise, and that we should build more Temples, and have further opportunities to receive the blessings of the Lord, as soon as the saints were prepared to receive them. In this Temple we have been abundantly rewarded, if we receive no more. I also informed the brethren that I was going to get my wagons started and be off. I walked some distance from the Temple supposing the crowd would disperse, but on returning I found the house filled to overflowing.

“Looking upon the multitude and knowing their anxiety, as they were thirsting and hungering for the word, we continued at work diligently in the House of the Lord. Two hundred and ninety-five persons received ordinances” (Brigham Young in History of the Church, 7:579).

4. The Saints experienced trials and miracles as they began journeying west.

Read: Trail of Hope

‘The evacuation of Nauvoo was originally planned to take place in April 1846. But as a result of threats that the state militia intended to prevent the Saints from going west, the Twelve Apostles and other leading citizens hurriedly met in council on 2 February 1846. They agreed that it was imperative to start west immediately, and the exodus began on 4 February. Under the direction of Brigham Young, the first group of Saints eagerly began their journey. However, that eagerness faced a great test, for there were many miles to be covered before permanent camps gave them respite from late winter weather and an exceptionally rainy spring.

To seek safety from their persecutors, thousands of Saints first had to cross the wide Mississippi River to Iowa territory. The perils of their journey began early when an ox kicked a hole in a boat carrying a number of Saints and the boat sank. One observer saw the unfortunate passengers hanging on to feather beds, sticks of wood, “lumber or any thing they could get hold of and were tossed and sported on the water at the mercy of the cold and unrelenting waves. … Some climbed on the top of the wagon which did not go quite under and were more comfortable while the cows and oxen on board were seen swimming to the shore from whence they came.”1 Finally all the people were pulled onto boats and brought to the other side.

Two weeks after the first crossing, the river froze over for a time. Though the ice was slippery, it supported wagons and teams and made the crossing easier. But the cold weather caused much suffering as the Saints plodded through the snow. In the encampment at Sugar Creek on the other side of the river, a steady wind blew snow that fell to a depth of almost eight inches. Then a thaw caused the ground to become muddy. Around, above, and below, the elements combined to produce a miserable environment for the 2,000 Saints huddled in tents, wagons, and hastily erected shelters while they waited for the command to continue on.

The most difficult part of the journey was this early stage through Iowa. Hosea Stout recorded that he “prepared for the night by erecting a temporary tent out of bed clothes. At this time my wife was hardly able to sit up and my little son was sick with a very high fever and would not even notice any thing that was going on.”2 Many other Saints also suffered greatly.’ (The Trials of a Winter Trek in Our Heritage)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History

Gospel Doctrine 2017- Lesson 32: “To Seal the Testimony”

1. The Prophet Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood.

A portrait by Alvin Gittins of Joseph Smith in a white shirt and brown suit, holding sheets of paper, with his hand on his side.

D&C 135:4-5 I am calm as a summer’s morning

‘Joseph Smith sealed his testimony with his blood. He could have saved his life…. He loved life. He loved his wife and family and friends. He wasn’t anxious to go over into eternity. He wanted to live a normal and natural life. He either had to give up his testimony-to recant-or he had to give up his life. He wasn’t willing to give up his testimony. He said, “Who am I to deny that I have had heavenly manifestations-that the Lord has appeared before me?”

And so he went calmly, knowing that his life would be taken. He said, “I go as a lamb to the slaughter”; and he went up to Carthage, knowing that the mob was gathering there and knowing they had bullets in their guns. He went calmly and passed on. He said, as he passed on, “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ‘(The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 143)

‘President Brigham Young and Elder Wilford Woodruff spent a portion of the day together in the city of Boston, and were sitting together in the railway depot at the time of the massacre of the Prophets; they felt very sorrowful, and depressed in spirits, without knowing the cause.

Elders Heber C. Kimball and Lyman Wight traveled from Philadelphia to New York by railway and steamboat. Elder Kimball felt very mournful as though he had lost some friend, and knew not the cause.

Elder Orson Hyde was in the hall occupied by the saints in Boston, examining maps, and designating or pointing out each man’s district or field of labor, in company with Elders Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff and others, a part of the day. He felt very heavy and sorrowful in spirit, and knew not the cause, but felt no heart to look on the maps. He retired to the further end of the hall alone, and walked the floor; tears ran down his face…. He never felt so before, and knew no reason why he should feel so then.

Elder Parley P. Pratt was on the canal boat between Utica and Buffalo, N. Y., on his return to Nauvoo, and was much depressed in spirit; his brother William Pratt came on board of the same boat, and Parley asked him if he had any books or pamphlets containing the gospel of Christ, or the words of life; if so, to put them under lock and key, for the people are not worthy of them for, said Parley, “I feel that the spirit of murder is in the hearts of the people through the land.”

Elders Willard Richards and John Taylor were the only two of the Quorum of the Twelve who were not on missions, and the only two men who were with the martyrs when they fell and sealed their testimony with their blood.

Elder George A. Smith rode with Elder Crandall Dunn, from Napoleon, to Elder Noah Willis Bartholemew’s, near Jacksonburg, Jackson county, Michigan, and felt unusually cast down and depressed in spirits. About five o’clock he repaired to an oak grove, and called upon the Lord, endeavoring to break the spell of horror which had dominion over his mind. He remained there a long time without finding any relief, and then went back to Brother Bartholomew’s, and went to bed with Elder Crandall Dunn; he could not sleep, but spent the night in a series of miserable thoughts and reflections. Once it seemed to him that some fiend whispered in his ear, “Joseph and Hyrum are dead; ain’t you glad of it?”

Elder Amasa Lyman was in the city of Cincinnati, and felt that depression of spirit mentioned by his brethren.’ (History of the Church, 7:132-133)

2. The Prophet Joseph Smith did more for the salvation of men in this world than anyone except Jesus.

A metal statue of brothers Hyrum and Joseph Smith stands in Carthage, Illinois, near Carthage Jail.

Watch: Joseph Smith – Prophet of the Restoration (D&C 135) This review of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s ministry shows that he “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world.” (13:09)

Watch: Those Who Knew Joseph Best Elder Oaks teaches about those who knew Joseph best (D&C 135). (0:50)

Watch: Testimony of the Book of Mormon A modern-day Apostle describes the unwavering faith the Church’s founders showed, even in the face of death, to remain true to their testimonies of the Book of Mormon.(4:39)

D&C 135:3 ..has sealed his mission

‘If it be the will of the Lord for the people to live, they will live. If it had been the will of the Lord that Joseph and Hyrum should have lived, they would have lived. It was necessary for Joseph to seal his testimony with his blood. Had he been destined to live he would have lived. The Lord suffered his death to bring justice on the nation. The debt is contracted and they have it to pay.’  (Discourses of Brigham Young, selected and arranged by John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 467)

Eye witness accounts of Joseph Smith

Jane James, an Afro-American convert :

I could not begin to tell you what he was, only this way, he was tall, over six feet; he was a fine, big, noble, beautiful man! He had blue eyes and light hair, and very fine white skin.

Rachel Ridgeway Grant (mother of Heber J Grant)

I guess you have seen the picture where Brother Joseph was preaching to the Indians. I was there at that time. The Indians were all kneeling down on the grass in front of the Mansion, and if you have seen that picture, that just describes the way everything was, though it is a miserable picture of the Prophet. He was a fine, noble-looking man, always so neat. There are some of the pictures that do not look a particle like him. When he was preaching you could feel the power and influence.

Jacob Jones

The Prophet weighed about 150 pounds, had nice brown hair, was always jovial and could crack a joke. He could sing well and loved music, loved to dance and would leave a meal at any time to wrestle with anyone. He was nimble as a cat and he was fond of us boys and would often play with us.

Anyone could not help but love him and he loved everybody. He always shook hands with all, even the babes. He had a very fine gray horse that he always rode whenever there was a parade.

Matthew S. Davis, member of Congress:

Washington 6th February 1840. My Dear Mary- I went last evening to hear Joe Smith, the celebrated Mormon, expound his doctrine. I with several others, had a desire to understand his tenets as explained by himself. He is not an educated man: but he is a plain, sensible strong minded man. Everything he says, is said in a manner to leave an impression that he is sincere. There is no levity, no fanaticism, no want of dignity in his deportment. He is apparently from forty to forty five years of age, rather above the middle stature, and what you ladies would call a very good looking man. ln his garb there are no peculiarities, his dress being that of a plain unpretending citizen. He is by profession a Farmer; but is evidently well read.

Josiah Quincy III, Mayor of Boston and President of Harvard University:

Pre-eminent among the stragglers by the door stood a man of commanding appearance, clad in the costume of a journeyman carpenter when about his work. He was a hearty, athletic fellow, with blue eyes standing prominently out upon his light complexion, a long nose, and a retreating forehead. He wore striped pantaloons, a linen jacket which had not lately seen the wash tub, and a beard of some three days’ growth. This was the founder of the religion which had been preached in every quarter of the earth.

A fine looking man is what the passerby would instinctively have murmured upon meeting this remarkable individual who had fashioned the mould which was to shape the feelings of so many thousands of his fellow-mortals.

George  Q Cannon, Liverpool born member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

He was more than six feet in height, with expansive chest and clean cut limbs ” a staunch and graceful figure. His head, crowned with a mass of soft, wavy hair, was grandly poised. His face possessed a complexion of such clearness and transparency that the soul appeared to shine through. He wore no beard, and the full strength and beauty of his countenance impressed all beholders at a glance. He had eyes which seemed to read the hearts of men. His mouth was one of mingled power and sweetness. His majesty of air was natural, not studied. Though full of personal and prophetic dignity whenever occasion demanded, he could at other times unbend and be as happy and unconventional as a boy. This was one of his most striking characteristics; and it was sometimes held up to scorn by his traducers, that the chosen *’man of God” should at times mingle as a man of earth with his earthly brethren.

Louisa Young Littlefield, met the Prophet as a 12 year old girl in 1834:

I will speak of a prominent trait of his character which was perhaps more marked in his early career than was the case after public cares and responsibilities multiplied upon him from so many sources. I mean his natural fondness for children. In Kirtland, when wagon loads of grown people and children came in from the country to meeting, Joseph would make his way to as many of the wagons as he well could and cordially shake the hand of each person. Every child and young babe in the company were especially noticed by him and tenderly taken by the hand, with his kind words and blessings. He loved innocence and purity, and he seemed to find it in the greatest perfection with the prattling child.

James Worthington Phippen:

I was favorably impressed with his noble mien, his stately form and his pleasant, smiling face and cheerful conversation.  Before I ever saw Joseph Smith I was satisfied that he was a man inspired of God, and when I beheld him if anything further could have increased my knowledge of him being a Prophet of the Lord, I was confirmed. During my acquaintance with him from 1839 until 1844, his teachings and examples were strong proof to me of his divine calling, without the inspiration of the Lord. I was an attentive listener and observer of the teachings, sayings and example of the Prophet Joseph Smith from the first time I saw him till the month of May, 1844, at which time I left Nauvoo for the state of New York on a mission. And being quite familiar with the history of his life as written, I remember many sayings recorded that I heard him utter. In common with those who were acquainted with his public life and doings in the midst of the Saints in Nauvoo, I had great joy and satisfaction in listening to his teachings.

Emmeline B Wells, 5th Relief Society General President:

In his manner he was gentle and kindly, and he was always affectionate to his friends, and at times demonstrative. He was strong and ardent in his nature and valued highly the quality of sincerity in friendship. He was manly to an unusual degree, yet tender-hearted as a woman on occasions. In his tastes he was literary as well as spiritual, fond of the drama, of music and of poetry. A very dear friend of mine who knew the Prophet intimately . . .[said] that she had known him to shed tears when hearing some specially fine vocal music, particularly old-fashioned songs and ballads. With such noble characteristics it is not strange that he was so intensely beloved.

John S. Reed, lawyer who helped Joseph Smith  in some of his early law suits:

… The first acquaintance I had with General Smith was about the year 1823. He came into my neighborhood, being then about eighteen years of age, and resided there two years, during which time I became intimately acquainted with him. I do know that his character was irreproachable, and that he was well known for truth and uprightness; that he moved in the first circles of the community, and he was often spoken of as a young man of intelligence and good morals, and possessing a mind susceptible of the highest intellectual attainments. I early discovered that his mind was constantly in search of truth, expressing an anxious desire to know the will of God.

Peter H. Burnett, a former Governor of California:

You could see at a glance that his education was very limited. He was an awkward and vehement speaker. In conversation he was slow, and used too many words to express his ideas, and would not generally go directly to a point. But, with all these drawbacks, he was much more than an ordinary man. He possessed the most indomitable perseverance, was a good judge of men, and deemed himself born to command, and he did command. His views were so strange and striking, and his manner was so earnest, and apparently so candid, that you could not but be interested. There was a kind, familiar look about him, that pleased you. He was very courteous in discussion, readily admitting what he did not intend to controvert, and would not oppose you abruptly, but had due deference to your feelings. He had the capacity for discussing a subject in different aspects, and for proposing many original views, even of ordinary matters. His illustrations were his own. He had great influence over others. As an evidence of this I will state that on Thursday, just before I left to return to Liberty [Missouri], I saw him out among the crowd, conversing freely with every one, and seeming to be perfectly at ease. In the short space of five days he had managed so to mollify his enemies that he could go unprotected among them without the slightest danger.

Dr. John M. Bernhisel, close friend of Joseph Smith:

Having been a boarder in General Smith’s family for more than nine months, and having therefore had abundant opportunities of contemplating his character and observing his conduct, I have concluded to give you a few of my “impressions” of him.

General Joseph Smith is naturally a man of strong mental powers, and is possessed of much energy and decision of character, great penetration, and a profound knowledge of human nature. He is a man of calm judgment, enlarged views, and is eminently distinguished by his love of justice. He is kind and obliging, generous and benevolent, sociable and cheerful, and is possessed of a mind of a contemplative and reactive character. He is honest, frank, fearless and independent, and as free from dissimulation as any man to be found.

But it is in the gentle charities of domestic life, as the tender and affectionate husband and parent, the warm and sympathizing friend, that the prominent traits of his character are revealed, and his heart is felt to be keenly alive to the kindest and softest emotions of which human nature is susceptible; and I feel assured that his family and friends formed one of the greatest consolations to him while the vials of wrath were poured upon his head, while his footsteps were pursued by malice and envy, and reproach and slander were strewn in his path, as well as during numerous and cruel persecutions, and severe and protracted sufferings in chains and loathsome prisons, for worshiping God according to the dictates of his own conscience.

He is a true lover of his country, and a bright and shining example of integrity and moral excellence in all the relations of life. As a religious teacher, as well as a man, he is greatly beloved by this people. It is almost superfluous to add that the numerous ridiculous and scandalous reports in circulation respecting him have not the least foundation in truth.

Lorenzo Snow

I shall never forget the first time I saw Joseph Smith. It was in Father Johnson’s house, in the township of Hiram, in the State of Ohio, about twenty-five miles from Kirtland. It was near Father Johnson’s where the mob tarred and feathered him. When I saw him he was standing in the doorway. Before him was a small bowery occupied by about a hundred and fifty or two hundred men and women. There for the first time I heard his voice. When I heard his testimony in regard to what the Lord had revealed to him, it seemed to me that he must be an honest man. He talked and looked like an honest man. He was an honest man.

Margarette McIntire Burgess, convert who lived in Nauvoo as a child:

Another time my older brother and I were going to school, near to the building which was known as Joseph’s brick store. It had been raining the previous day, causing the ground to be very muddy, especially along that street. My brother Wallace and I both got fast in the mud, and could not get out, and of course childlike, we began to cry, for we thought we would have to stay there. But looking up, I beheld the loving friend of children, the Prophet Joseph, coming to us. He soon had us on higher and drier ground. Then he stooped down and cleaned the mud from our little, heavyladen shoes, took his handkerchief from his pocket and wiped our tear-stained faces. He spoke kind and cheering words to us, and sent us on our way to school rejoicing.

Brigham Young:

When I first heard him preach, he brought heaven and earth together; and all the priests of the day could not tell me anything correct about heaven, hell, God, angels, or devils; they were as blind as Egyptian darkness. When I saw Joseph Smith, he took heaven, figuratively speaking, and brought it down to earth; and he took the earth, brought it up, and opened up in plainness and simplicity, the things of God; and that is the beauty of his mission.

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, Joseph Smith, LDS Church History, LDS Doctrine, Temples

Gospel Doctrine 2017- Lesson 30: “The Prisoners Shall Go Free”

1. Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord revealed the doctrine of priesthood ordinances for the dead.

Watch: Glad Tidings – The History of Baptisms for the Dead Joseph Smith’s struggle with his brother Alvin’s death led eventually to the introduction of baptisms for the dead. This new ordinance was embraced by saints in Nauvoo who did the first genealogical and family history research in Church history. (6:55)

Read: Revelations in Context – Letters on Baptism for the Dead

Image result for Gospel Doctrine 2017- Lesson 30: “The Prisoners Shall Go Free”

‘On 15 August 1840, Joseph Smith preached the funeral sermon of Seymour Brunson, during which he declared for the first time the doctrine of baptism for the dead. It is not known precisely when the first proxy baptism or baptisms were performed; however, the first documented baptism for the dead was performed on 12 September 1840, when Jane Neyman requested that Harvey Olmstead baptize her in behalf of her deceased son Cyrus Livingston Neyman…. A short while later, upon learning the words Olmstead used in performing the baptism, Joseph Smith gave his approval of the ordinance. Later, instructions were given concerning proper procedures for performing and recording baptisms for the dead (see D&C 127-128), and it was clarified that “females should be baptised for females, and males for males” (Woodruff, Journal of Discourses, 5:85). Doctrine and Covenants 124 (given five months after the first baptisms for the dead were performed) instructed that the practice of baptizing for the dead outside the Nauvoo Temple would be temporary [see vs. 29-34]. During the October 1841 general conference Joseph Smith announced, “There shall be no more baptisms for the dead, until the ordinance can be attended to in the Lord’s House…. For thus saith the Lord!” (History of the Church, 4:426). Allowance for the practice of performing proxy baptisms outside the temple lasted approximately thirteen and one-half months (15 August 1840-3 October 1841)….

On 8 November 1841, Brigham Young dedicated a temporary wooden baptismal font in the basement of the unfinished temple, and less than two weeks later, on 21 November, the first baptisms for the dead were performed in the temple by Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, and John Taylor.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.838-839 (2012)

D&C 2:2 He shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers

‘In our preexistent state, in the day of the great council, we made a certain agreement with the Almighty. The Lord proposed a plan, conceived by him. We accepted it. Since the plan is intended for all men, we become parties to the salvation of every person under that plan. We agreed, right then and there, to be not only saviors for ourselves but measurably, saviors for the whole human family. We went into a partnership with the Lord. The working out of the plan became then not merely the Father’s work, and the Savior’s work, but also our work. The least of us, the humblest, is in partnership with the Almighty in achieving the purpose of the eternal plan of salvation.’ (John A Widtsoe, Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine, Oct. 1934, p. 189; see also History of the Church, 6:59-61)” (Doctrine and  Covenants Student Manual, 1981, p. 8)

2. The Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo.

Image result for 2. The Lord commanded the Saints to build a temple in Nauvoo.

D&C 124:28 What Is Meant by “The Fulness of the Priesthood”?

President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote:

“Joseph Smith said … , ‘If a man gets a fulness of the Priesthood of God, he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.’ [History of the Church, 5:424.]

“I hope we understand that. If we want to receive the fullness of the Priesthood of God, then we must receive the fullness of the ordinances of the house of the Lord and keep His commandments. …“Let me put this in a little different way. I do not care what office you hold in this Church, you may be an apostle, you may be patriarch, a high priest, or anything else, and you cannot receive the fulness of the Priesthood unless you go into the temple of the Lord and receive these ordinances of which the Prophet speaks. No man can get the fulness of the Priesthood outside of the temple of the Lord. There was a time when that could be done, for the Lord could give these things on the mountain tops—no doubt that is where Moses got it, that is no doubt where Elijah got it—and the Lord said that in the days of poverty, when there was no house prepared in which to receive these things, that they can be received on the mountain tops. But now you will have to go into the house of the Lord, and you cannot get the fulness of the priesthood unless you go there.” (Elijah the Prophet, pp. 45–46.) (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 124:30 This ordinance belongeth to my house

Orson Pratt explained that a practical reason for centering the ordinance of baptism for the dead in the temple is that ‘the house of God is a house of order, the kingdom of God is a kingdom of order, and everything must be conducted with order, and with power and authority, so that when it is sealed on earth it is sealed in the heavens, that the records on earth and in heaven may agree-that the Priesthood on earth and in heaven may agree-that they may be one.'” (Hyrum L. Andrus, Principles of Perfection [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1970], 486)

A front side view of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, with a bright, clear blue sky in the background and green lawns in the front of the temple.

“Today, facing west, on the high bluff overlooking the city of Nauvoo, thence across the Mississippi, and over the plains of Iowa, there stands Joseph’s temple, a magnificent house of God. Here in the Salt Lake Valley, facing east to that beautiful temple in Nauvoo, stands Brigham’s temple, the Salt Lake Temple. They look toward one another as bookends between which there are volumes that speak of the suffering, the sorrow, the sacrifice, even the deaths of thousands who made the long journey from the Mississippi River to the valley of the Great Salt Lake.” —Gordon B. Hinckley

3. We should be enthusiastic and joyful in our efforts to perform baptisms for the dead.

Watch: Temples Bless the Living and the Dead D&C 124:38-41) Temples bless the living and the dead. (1:02)

Watch: We Cannot Be Saved Without Our Dead Elder Nelson teaches that we cannot be saved without our dead (D&C 128:17-18). (1:52)

Watch: The Joy of Redeeming the Dead

Watch: Will I Do My Part? 

The key to freeing our ancestors from spirit prison is in our hands. We have the opportunity to put that key into action and bring the blessings of the Gospel to our families. (2:43)

D&C 128:14-18 Why Is Baptism for the Dead Such an Important Gospel Principle?

;In these verses, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught the following principles:

  1. The salvation of our dead ancestors is “essential to our salvation.” Our lives are closely tied to our ancestors’ lives, for we cannot become perfect without them nor they without us (D&C 128:15).
  2. Baptism for the dead is the “most glorious of all subjects belonging to the everlasting gospel” (v. 17). This doctrine shows the love and mercy of an all-wise Father in Heaven. Baptism for the dead and other vicarious work makes it possible for all our Father’s children to receive the same blessings, and be judged on the same terms, whether or not they had a chance to accept the gospel in mortality. President Rudger Clawson said: “Oh, the beauty of the justice and mercy of God, who is no respecter of persons! And let it be remembered that what it takes to save one who is living; it takes just that much to save one who is dead.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1931, p. 79.)
  3. Baptism for the dead helps to prevent the earth from being smitten with a curse. As President Joseph Fielding Smith taught: “If Elijah had not come, we are led to believe that all the work of past ages would have been of little avail, for the Lord said the whole earth, under such conditions, would be utterly wasted at his coming. Therefore his mission was of vast importance to the world. It is not the question of baptism for the dead alone, but also the sealing of parents and children to parents, so that there should be a ‘whole and complete and perfect union, and welding together of dispensations, and keys, and powers, and glories,’ from the beginning down to the end of time.

    “If this sealing power were not on the earth, then confusion would reign and disorder would take the place of order in that day when the Lord shall come, and, of course, this could not be, for all things are governed and controlled by perfect law in the kingdom of God. “Why would the earth be wasted? Simply because if there is not a welding link between the fathers and the children—which is the work for the dead—then we will all stand rejected; the whole work of God will fail and be utterly wasted. Such a condition, of course, shall not be.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:121–22.) (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

D&C 128:19-23 A Voice of Gladness

“In September 1842, the Prophet Joseph Smith was hiding in the house of Edward Hunter in Nauvoo… Yet it was in the cramped quarters of Edward Hunter’s home that Joseph penned the most majestic hymn of praise of the Restoration.

“Perhaps you have been to a symphony and listened to a piece of music that begins with a single, clear note played by a violin or a flute. The single instrument holds center stage for a time and then slowly, sometimes almost imperceptibly, is joined by other instruments. As the piece continues, the music swells as more and more instruments join in until all are playing and the whole hall is filled with the beauty of sound.

“Or perhaps you have listened to a great choir perform. Often a single soloist with a clear voice will begin to sing. As with the symphony, that single voice sounds in our ears without distraction. Then, slowly, other voices begin singing until, in a wonderful unity of sound, all are singing as one.

“This is the structure of Joseph Smith’s hymn of praise, only it is a hymn not of voice in song or note of violin but in words played upon the soul and recorded in the scriptures. Joseph’s hymn, too, begins with a single voice, ‘a voice of gladness.’ Listen to the words and see if you can hear the other voices join in to sing one unified song of praise for the blessings of the Restoration:  (quotes D&C 128:19-23.)

“What could have possibly been on Joseph Smith’s mind to bring forth from his pen such a beautiful summation of the Restoration? The central theme of D&C 128:1 is the salvation of the dead through the ordinances of the House of the Lord. Indeed, the verse immediately preceding Joseph’s song of gladness speaks of a ‘welding link . . . between the fathers and the children,’ a link that would be ‘whole and complete and perfect.’ (D&C 128:18.)

“Earlier in the letter, and serving as introduction to his song of praise, Joseph Smith told the Saints, ‘[The work of the temple] seems to occupy my mind, and press itself upon my feelings the strongest.’ He assured them, ‘These are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation.’ (D&C 128:1, 15.) Joseph understood that the culmination of the Restoration, the point to which all the voices were leading, was the temple and the redeeming work for both living and dead that would take place within its walls. Without that work, the song of the Restoration would have ‘become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.’ (1 Corinthians 13:1.) Or, as Malachi wrote, ‘The whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.’ (D&C 2:3.) Temple work was the soul of Joseph Smith’s song as it is the soul of the Restoration.” (S. Michael Wilcox, House of Glory: Finding Personal Meaning in the Temple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 5-7)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017-Lesson 29: Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois

1. The Saints sought refuge in Illinois.

‘After the Latter-day Saints were driven from Missouri in early 1839, most found temporary refuge in Quincy, Adams County, Illinois. Between April and August, however, Latter-day Saint leaders negotiated several land purchases in Lee County, Iowa, and Hancock Count, Illinois, which included the small Mississippi riverfront village of Commerce. As a result of these acquisitions, significant numbers of Church members began to relocate in Lee and Hancock counties during the spring and summer of 1839. Joseph Smith purchased a small, two-story, square-cut log home that was named the Homestead and was situated on the outskirts of Commerce proper. Commerce (later named Nauvoo by Joseph Smith) subsequently became the principal place of Latter-day Saint settlement and the headquarters of the Church.

In late October 1839, the Prophet journeyed to Washington, D.C., to seek redress from federal government officials for the Missouri persecutions. President Martin Van Buren denied their petitions and turned a deaf ear, and U.S. Senate leaders determined that the reparation in behalf of the Saints could be secured only in Missouri’s courts. After an absence of four months, Joseph Smith returned to Illinois, where he turned his attention from the past to moving ahead to the future. His agenda became that of community builder, and thereafter he sought to establish Nauvoo as the new gathering place….

By early 1841, Nauvoo was bustling with home construction and mercantile and business development. In addition, plans for a temple and a hotel (the Nauvoo House) were already underway. The Nauvoo Charter, establishing Nauvoo as a state-sanctioned municipality with a city council, a university, and an independent militia, had been approved by the state legislature and signed by Governor Thomas Carlin in December 1840 and was set to go into effect on 1 February 1841. Nauvoo—a Hebrew word meaning “beautiful”—was on the rise and the Saints’ optimism ran high.

It was under these circumstances that Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in section 124 on 19 January 1841. It is the longest canonized revelation (5,529 words, 145 verses) and the first revelation of the Illinois period included in the Doctrine and Covenants.’ (Largey, Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion, p.837)

Image result for Gospel Doctrine 2017-Lesson 29: Building the Kingdom of God in Nauvoo, Illinois

2. Missionaries sent from Nauvoo converted thousands of people.

Watch: The Heart and a Willing Mind  (D&C 64:34) Elder Heber C. Kimball and his family willingly serve the Lord as Elder Kimball leaves first from Kirtland and then from Nauvoo to preach the gospel in England.

3. The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

Read: Revelations in Context – Organising the Church in Nauvoo

D&C 124:12-14 Robert B Thompson

“Birth: 1 October 1811, Great Driffield, Yorkshire, England.
Death: 27 August 1841, Nauvoo, Hancock County, Illinois.

“Robert Thompson received his education and developed an interest in religion in Dunnington, Yorkshire, England. He joined the Methodists and was a preacher for some years before immigrating to Upper Canada in 1834. It was the preaching of Parley P. Pratt that led Robert to become a member of the Church in May 1836.

“Anxious to join with the Saints, he journeyed to Kirtland in May 1837, but within the year he had returned to Upper Canada to serve a mission. After baptizing many Canadians he once again attempted to settle in Kirtland, but the persecution against the Saints had increased, so Robert joined his brother-in-law Hyrum Smith and journeyed to Far West, Missouri. Escalating persecution led to open confrontation in Missouri. Robert fought in the Battle of Crooked River in defense of the Saints; consequently his enemies swore they would kill him. He suffered from exposure and lack of food as he attempted to avoid their clutches.

“He temporarily settled in Quincy, Illinois, and was employed as a writer for the Argus newspaper and as a courthouse clerk. When he moved to Nauvoo he served as a scribe for the Prophet and also gathered libelous reports and publications against the Church at the Prophet’s request. He was appointed general Church clerk, colonel and aide-de-camp of the Nauvoo Legion, Nauvoo city treasurer, and a regent of the University of Nauvoo.

“On 19 January 1841 Robert was called by the Lord to assist the Prophet in writing a proclamation to the kings, presidents, and governors of the earth. ‘Let my servant Robert B. Thompson help you to write this proclamation, for I am well pleased with him’ (D&C 124:12).  In the revelation the Lord promised: ‘I will bless him with a multiplicity of blessings; let him be faithful and true in all things from henceforth, and he shall be great in mine eyes; but let him remember that his stewardship will I require at his hands’ (D&C 124:13-14).

“From May to August 1841 he worked with Don Carlos Smith as an associate editor of the Times and Seasons. On 16 August 1841 he was seized with the same disease that had caused the death of Don Carlos the week before. ‘The attachment between them was so strong, it seemed as though they could not long be separated.’ Robert died on 27 August 1841 at his residence in Nauvoo at the age of twenty-nine. The Prophet said that he died ‘in full hope of a glorious resurrection.'”(Susan Easton Black, Who’s Who in the Doctrine and Covenants [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1997], 322)

Image result for The examples of the Nauvoo Saints show the importance of enduring to the end in righteousness.

D&C 124:16-17 Why Was John C. Bennett Commended by the Lord When He Later Became Such an Enemy of the Church?

‘Smith and Sjodahl wrote that John C. Bennett “was well educated and possessed many gifts and accomplishments. He was a physician, a university professor, and a brigadier-general. On the 27th of July, 1840, he offered his services to the Church. The Prophet Joseph replied, inviting him to come to Commerce, if he felt so disposed, but warned him at the same time not to expect exaltation ‘in this generation,’ from devotion to the cause of truth and a suffering people; nor worldly riches; only the approval of God. The outcome of the correspondence was that he joined the Church and rose to prominent positions among the Saints. His fellowship with the people of God did not last long, however. On the 25th of May, 1842, he was notified that the leaders of the Church did no longer recognize him as a member, because of his impure life, and shortly afterwards the Church took action against him. Then he became one of the most bitter enemies of the Church. His slanders, his falsehoods and unscrupulous attacks, which included perjury and attempted assassination were the means of inflaming public opinion to such an extent that the tragedy at Carthage became possible.

“Why, then, did his name appear, in this Revelation, as that of a trusted assistant of Joseph? John Taylor furnishes the answer to that question. He says, ‘Respecting John C. Bennett: I was well acquainted with him. At one time he was a good man, but fell into adultery, and was cut off from the Church for his iniquity’ (History of the Church, Vol. V., p. 81). At the time of the revelation he was a good man. But he was overcome by the adversary and made the slave of his carnal desires. The Lord knew him and warned him. ‘His reward shall not fail if he receive counsel.’ ‘He shall be great … if he do this,’ etc. Bennett did not heed these warning ‘ifs’ from Him who knew what was in his heart.” (Commentary, pp. 770–71.)

The Lord does not withhold present blessings because of future sinful behavior. He blessed King David as long as he was faithful and did not withhold opportunity, although he had foreknowledge of David’s future transgressions with Bathsheba. As long as one obeys, the blessings come. With the perspective of history one may be tempted to ask why the Lord chose men who would eventually falter to be leaders in the Church, but one should remember that at the time of their calling they were faithful and true.’ (Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

4. The Relief Society was organized in Nauvoo.

A painting by Nadine Barton of Joseph Smith Jr. and his wife Emma Smith standing before a group of sitting women as they organize the Relief Society.

Read: ‘Something Better’: – The Female Relief Society of Nauvoo

‘In Nauvoo, Latter-day Saint women were blessed with their own organization in the Church. It had its beginning when several women, led by Sarah Granger Kimball, organized to make shirts for the men working on the temple. The women decided to formally organize, and they asked Eliza R. Snow to write a constitution for their group. When the Prophet Joseph Smith was consulted, he told them that their constitution was excellent but offered to organize the women in a better way. On March 17, 1842, the Prophet, along with Elders John Taylor and Willard Richards, met with 20 women in the upstairs room of the Red Brick Store, where the Prophet organized the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo. Emma Smith was selected as the organization’s president, thus fulfilling the revelation identifying her as an “elect lady” (D&C 25:3). The Prophet later stated that the organization’s objective was to “relieve the poor” and “to save souls” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith[2007], 453).

On April 28, 1842, the Prophet met again with the sisters. He told them that they would receive instruction through the order of the priesthood and then declared, “I now turn the key to you in the name of God, and this Society shall rejoice, and knowledge and intelligence shall flow down from this time” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 451).’ (Foundations of the Restoration Institute Manual)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Obedience

Gospel Doctrine 2017: Lesson 27: “They Must Needs Be Chastened and Tried, Even as Abraham”

1. The Saints settle in Jackson County, Missouri, and are later driven out.

D&C 57:2-3 This is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion

‘It is of this city, a city that shall be built before the Second Coming, that the Lord said to Enoch: “I shall prepare, and Holy City, that my people may gird up their loins, and be looking forth for the time of my coming; for there shall be my tabernacle, and it shall be called Zion, a New Jerusalem.” (Moses 7:62.) It is in this city, the New Jerusalem in Jackson County, that the house of the Lord unto which all nations shall come in the last days shall be built, “which temple,” the Lord said in September 1832, “shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud shall rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.” (D&C 84:1-5.)

Because the saints were “hindered by the hands of their enemies, and by oppression,” the Lord withdrew the time limitation (D&C 124:49-54), and the command now in force is: “Zion shall be redeemed in mine own due time.” (D&C 136:18.) When that is to be remains to be seen, but that it will surely come to pass, as part of the preparation of the Lord’s people for his glorious return, is as certain as that the sun shines or that the Great God is Lord of all. When the appointed time comes, the Lord will reveal it to his servants who preside over his kingdom from Salt Lake City, and then the great work will go forward. They will direct the work; they hold the keys of temple building; the temple will be built by gathered Israel and particularly by Ephraim, for it is unto Ephraim that the other tribes shall come to receive their temple blessings in due course. Some Lamanites may assist and some Gentiles may bring their wealth to adorn the buildings, but the keys are with Ephraim, and it is Ephraim that is now stepping forth and that yet shall step forth to bless the rest of the house of Israel.’ (Bruce R McConkie, The Millennial Messiah: The Second Coming of the Son of Man [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982], 281.)

D&C 63:24 Not in haste

‘President Joseph Fielding Smith explained that land in Zion was to be purchased. “This fact was taught the early members. They were warned against creating antagonism among their neighbors, many of whom were extremely bitter towards the members of the Church. The Lord said the land could not be obtained by the shedding of blood. Those who had the privilege of assembling there should not go up to Zion in haste, but gradually. The reason for this advice is apparent, for haste would lead to confusion, unsatisfactory conditions and pestilence, and then, also, it creates consternation and fear in the hearts of their enemies and arouses greater opposition. Satan desired to destroy them and in his anger endeavored to stir them up to strife and contention as well as the older settlers in Missouri.” (Church History and Modern Revelation,1:232.)’ Doctrine and Covenants Institute Manual)

mob-attacking-settlement-jackson-county_1864250

2. The Lord instructs the Saints who were driven from Jackson County.

Read: Revelations in Context – Waiting for the Word of the Lord

Read: Joseph Smith Papers – Historical Introduction D&C 101

Watch: The Lord Tests His People President Faust teaches that the Lord tests His people (D&C 101:1-19). (1:23)

D&C 101:2 I, the Lord, have suffered affliction to come upon them

‘The Lord has told us in this book that he would scourge this people, and would not suffer them to go on in wickedness as he does the world. He will make a difference in this respect between those who profess his name and the world. The world may prosper. They have not the religion of Heaven among them; they have no revelators and prophets among them; they have not the baptism of the Holy Ghost, nor the gifts and blessings of God among them, and consequently though they transgress the revealed word of God, he suffers them to go on, apparently without checking them, until they are fully ripened in iniquity, then he sends forth judgment and cuts them off, instead of chastening them from time to time. Not so with the Saints. God has decreed, from the early rise of the Church, that we should be afflicted by our enemies, and by various afflictions, and he would contend with this people and chasten them from time to time until Zion should be clean before him. He has done this, and more especially while we were in the States. We were inexperienced, and did not then understand the necessity of strictly obeying every word spoken by the mouth of God, and we had to suffer because of this.’ (Orson Pratt, Journal of Discourses, 15:335)

‘This great tribulation would not have come upon Zion had it not been for rebellion: Firstly, there were rebellions against the one to whom were entrusted the keys, & from thence it has spread down to the lowest & least member! not this alone, but those who were void of understanding were continually telling that which was not true, & putting false coloring to the things of  God! I mean those whose mouths are continually open, & whose tongues cannot be stayed from tatling! & the church will never have peace while such remain in her, therefore, brethren purge them out, & have no confidence in any except such as will lay down their lives for this sacred cause for none others are worthy of it. It was necessary that these things should come upon us: not only justice demands it, but there was no other way to cleanse the church. (Oliver Cowdery, Letter to Missouri, 10 August 1833; josephsmithpapers.org)

11-05

D&C 101:4 They must be chastened and tried

“Don’t be afraid of the testing and trials of life. Sometimes when you are going through the most severe tests, you will be nearer to God than you have any idea, for like the experience of the Master himself in the temptation on the mount, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the cross at Calvary, the scriptures record, ‘And, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.’ (Matthew 4:11.) Sometimes that may happen to you in the midst of your trials.” (Harold B lee, In Conference Report, Munich Germany Area Conference 1973, p. 114.)

3. Zion’s Camp is organized and marches to Missouri.

Read: Joseph Smith and Zion’s Camp (Ensign June 2005) The gospel lessons learned during the two months of Zion’s Camp defined and refined the Prophet Joseph Smith and others as leaders of the Church.

Read: Revelations in Context – The Acceptable Offering of Zion’s Camp

Watch: Zion’s Camp Several events from the march of Zion’s Camp show how it fulfilled the purposes of God.

Read: We also marched – the women and children of Zion’s Camp Much like the women of the Mormon Battalion and other military expeditions, the Zion’s Camp women contributed in various ways to the overall character of the group and its success and helped prepare for later mass migrations to the West. The women helped with the traditional domestic duties of cooking and laundering and caring for children. They also provided a civilizing influence on the camp. This article tells the stories of twelve women and several children known to have traveled with the more than 200 men of Zion’s Camp. Also, a woman (Ruth Vose) made the largest financial contribution to the funding of the march.

Zionscamp02

‘According to its ostensible purpose, [Zion’s Camp] was a failure. But most of the men who were to lead the Church for the next half-century, including those who would take the Saints across the plains and colonize the Intermountain West, came to know the Prophet Joseph and received their formative leadership training in the march of Zion’s Camp. As Elder Orson F. Whitney said of Zion’s Camp:

“The redemption of Zion is more than the purchase or recovery of lands, the building of cities, or even the founding of nations. It is the conquest of the heart, the subjugation of the soul, the sanctifying of the flesh, the purifying and ennobling of the passions.” (The Life of Heber C. Kimball, 2d ed., Salt Lake City: Stevens & Wallis, 1945, p. 65.’) [Dallin H Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1985, p. 61-62]

D&C 103:9 They were set to be a light to the world

‘It is easy to despair when we see about us the moorings of society slipping. We must remember, however, that the Lord sent His Saints into the world “to be a light unto the world, and to be the saviors of men.” (D&C 103:9.) This is a time when “Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.” (D&C 82:14.) The contrast between the Church and the world will be increasingly marked in the future, which contrast, we hope, will cause the Church to be more attractive to those in the world who desire to live according to God’s plan for us, His children.’  (Ezra Taft Benson, “May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978, 33)

4. The Lord reveals that His people must “wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion.”

Watch: Gather in Stakes The Lord has commanded us to gather in stakes (D&C 101:20-22,63-75). (1:17)

D&C 103:7 They shall never cease to prevail

“There cannot be a doubt in any faithful man’s mind concerning the truth of this promise—the promise of victory and deliverance on the one hand, the promise of punishment, disaster and trouble on the other. The Latter-day Saints have in their experience proved fully the truth of these words. They have seen them fulfilled to the very letter. When they have been faithful in keeping the commandments of God they have prospered and they have had deliverance. When they have been unfaithful they met with trouble and serious difficulty. It is necessary that the wicked should have the opportunity to exercise their agency in relation to the work of God; for they have an agency as well as we. It is their privilege to assist in building up the word of God, or they can exercise their agency in fighting the work of God. They have the privilege to do everything in their power to destroy it, and they will be permitted to do this until the cup of their iniquity is full.” (George Q Cannon, In Conference Report, Oct. 1899, p. 48.)

D&C 105:3-4 They have not learned to be obedient

“In the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord reveals that Zion cannot be established ‘unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.’…

“The Lord commanded the Saints in 19th-century New York, for example, to make sure that they took care of the poor and unfortunate among them. He also commanded them in the same revelation to be united, for if they were not one they were not his people. He gave these commandments to them as they were preparing to leave New York to go to Ohio in 1831. This was the first step in gathering to Zion in Jackson County, Missouri. Within eight months of these instructions some of these members were already in Independence. Two years later mobs drove them out. Subsequently the Lord explained in a revelation the reason he had allowed this to happen: they had not done as he had instructed-they were not taking care of the unfortunate, and they were not united.

“Thus it would appear that taking care of the unfortunate and being united according to the model of the celestial kingdom are high on the Lord’s list of expectations for his people. When we covenant with him to sacrifice and to consecrate ourselves and all we have to his service, we need to make these covenants manifest in our lives.

“In the revelation explaining why ‘mine elders should wait for a little season for the redemption of Zion,’ the Lord said it was so that ‘they themselves may be prepared, and that my people may be taught more perfectly, and have experience, and know more perfectly concerning their duty, and the things which I require at their hands.’ Today, nearly 163 years later, we may well ask ourselves if we as individuals and families are preparing more perfectly for the establishment of Zion.” (Robert J. Woodford, “The Remarkable Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, Jan. 1997, 47-48)

Posted in Doctrine and Covenants, Gospel Doctrine 2017, LDS Church History, Missionary work

Gospel Doctrine 2017 – Lesson 26: “Go Ye into All the World, and Preach My Gospel”

1. The Lord poured out great blessings during the Kirtland period.

While the Prophet Joseph was living in the Kirtland area, he received numerous revelations, 65 of which are included in the Doctrine and Covenants. The revelations taught the Lord’s will in connection with welfare, sign seeking, moral conduct, dietary principles, tithing, priesthood authority, the role of a prophet, the three degrees of glory, missionary work, the Second Coming, the law of consecration, and many other subjects.

35448_all_003_01-kirtland

2. The Saints in Kirtland made great sacrifices to share the gospel.

Read: Revelations in Context: ‘I Quit Other Business’: Early Missionaries

Read: Revelations in Context: A Mission to the Lamanites

Read: Revelations in Context: Take Special Care of Your Family

Watch: This Grand Opportunity  Elizabeth McCune and the First Sister Missionaries

The Saints in the 1830s had very little money. At tremendous sacrifice they had constructed a temple. The United States at that time was gripped by a spirit of financial speculation, which resulted in a financial crash in 1837. In Kirtland, people turned against the Prophet Joseph Smith and a great sifting took place between the faithful and those whose eyes were set upon the things of the world.

It was in these difficult times, on Sunday, 4 June 1837, that the Prophet Joseph Smith came to Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve, while Brother Kimball in the Kirtland Temple, and whispering to [him], said, ‘Brother Heber, the Spirit of the Lord has whispered to me: ‘Let my servant Heber go to England and proclaim my Gospel, and open the door of salvation to that nation.’ ”

Imagine, one man who had very little telling another who had practically nothing that he was to go across the sea to open the work there.

One can understand Heber C. Kimball’s response. Feeling his weakness he said, “O, Lord, I am a man of stammering tongue, and altogether unfit for such a work; how can I go to preach in that land, which is so famed throughout Christendom for learning, knowledge and piety; the nursery of religion; and to a people whose intelligence is proverbial!”

Brother Kimball said at the time: “The idea of such a mission was almost more than I could bear up under. I was almost ready to sink under the burden which was placed upon me.”

“However, all these considerations did not deter me from the path of duty; the moment I understood the will of my Heavenly Father, I felt a determination to go at all hazards, believing that He would support me by His almighty power, and endow me with every qualification that I needed; and although my family was dear to me, and I should have to leave them almost destitute, I felt that the cause of truth, the Gospel of Christ, outweighed every other consideration.” (Ibid., p. 104.)

Orson Hyde, Willard Richards, and Joseph Fielding responded with similar faith, and these four were joined in New York by John Goodson, Isaac Russell, and John Snyder.

Tuesday, June 13, was the scheduled departure date for the four who were to leave Kirtland. One who looked in on the Kimball household that morning described the prayer that was uttered by the father who was leaving and who  laid his hands upon his childrens’ heads to give them a blessing

“While thus engaged his voice was almost lost in the sobs of those around, who tried in vain to suppress them. The idea of being separated from their protector and father for so long a time was indeed painful. He proceeded, but his heart was too much affected to do so regularly. His emotions were great, and he was obliged to stop at intervals, while the big tears rolled down his cheeks.”

After eighteen days and eighteen hours on the water the ship pulled into the Mersey. They spent a few days in Liverpool seeking direction from the Lord, and then felt the confirming whispering of the Spirit directing them to go to Preston. There they found a city in a state of excitement over elections for members of Parliament. Queen Victoria had ascended the throne three days earlier and had called for a national election.

As they came up the street in Preston, a banner unfurled before them with the words “Truth Will Prevail.”

This they adopted as the motto of their mission. It may seem a strange motto for a political party today but it is a motto that we could do well to adopt

In a dark and troubled hour the Lord said to those He loved: “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).

Heber C Kimball and his colleagues took heart from the simple motto truth will prevail. They then worked as hard as they could with body mind and spirit to share the Gospel. The Lord then blessed them with success in their work.

D&C 42:6 Go forth in the power of my Spirit

‘The power of a missionary is not determined by his or her height, weight, or physical prowess. Nor is it determined by his or her smoothness of tongue or cleverness of mind. It is, however, determined by his or her receptivity to the Spirit and willingness to heed its promptings.

To go forth in the power of the Spirit means that a missionary must be taught and led by the Spirit and must teach by the Spirit. Therefore, the conscientious missionary courts the Holy Spirit every day of his mission. Such courting involves the exercise of faith, prayer, study, work, and righteous living. All of this is done with these promises in mind: (1) “The Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of faith” (D&C 42:14) and (2) “If ye will . . . receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all things what ye should do” (2 Ne. 32:5). There is also the instruction that “if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach” (D&C 42:14).

Missionaries must bear in mind that the Spirit or Holy Ghost enables a missionary to speak persuasively with “the tongue of angels” (2 Ne. 32:2). It serves as a conduit, if you will, through which the message passes from a missionary’s heart to the heart of the listener. It is the power that converts.’ (Carlos E Asay, The Seven M’s of Missionary Service: Proclaiming the Gospel as a Member or Full-time Missionary [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996], chap. 4)

D&C 88:81 Warn the people

‘We who have received a knowledge of the great plan of happiness—and its implementing commandments—should feel a desire to share that knowledge since it makes all the difference here and in eternity. And if we ask, “Who is my neighbor that I should warn?” surely the answer will be found in a parable that begins, “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves,”  Luke 10:30 and so forth.’ (D Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2017)

3. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve taught thousands in England.

Read: Brigham Young in England

Read: History of the Church in Great Britain

D&C 112:21 Power to open the door of my kingdom unto any nation

‘When I read Church history, I am amazed at the boldness of the early brethren as they went out into the world. They seemed to find a way. Even in persecution and hardship, they went and opened doors which evidently have been allowed to sag on their hinges and many of them to close. I remember that these fearless men were teaching the gospel in Indian lands before the Church was even fully organized. As nearly as 1837 the Twelve were in England fighting Satan, in Tahiti in 1844, Australia in 1851, Iceland 1853, Italy 1850, and also in Switzerland, Germany, Tonga, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Czechoslovakia, China, Samoa, New Zealand, South America, France, and Hawaii in 1850. When you look at the progress we have made in some countries, with no progress in many of their nearby countries, it makes us wonder. Much of this early proselyting was done while the leaders were climbing the Rockies and planting the sod and starting their homes. It is faith and super faith.

These men of valor began to walk the earth with dignity and honor, with mantles on their shoulders and keys in their hands and love in their hearts.’ (Spencer W Kimball, “When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, 6)

4. Many Saints in Kirtland remained valiant despite persecution.

‘Saints who looked back on this period learned some compelling lessons of which we today need to be aware. One of the pointed lessons we learn from the Kirtland apostasy is that no one should consider himself secure from the loss of faith. Pride, criticism, speculation, envy, greed—these are enough to cause the most faithful to stumble. Parley P. Pratt, for example, declared that “envyings, lyings, strifes and divisions” caused “trouble and sorrow” in Kirtland. He admitted that he was a victim of these failings. But the Lord knew his faith—his “integrity of purpose”—and helped him in his victory against an opposing spirit.

Orson Hyde recalled that, because he acted foolishly during this period of darkness, he temporarily lost “the light of the Holy Ghost.” Luke S. Johnson admitted that his mind became darkened and he neglected his Church responsibilities after he had “partaken of the spirit of speculation.

And yet, through it all, 87 percent of the Kirtland Saints continued to nurture their faith. They continued to sustain Joseph Smith as a prophet, sacrificing nearly all their material possessions rather than forsake the restored gospel. Despite opposition, they sacrificed their homes, the sacred temple they had built, and even their lives to carry the work of the Lord forward. We would do well to emulate their example.’ (Milton V Backman, A Warning from Kirtland, Ensign, April 1989)